Ambient/experimental/art music. Tim Hecker has been making ambient music since 2001. Perhaps his most famous album is Ravedeath, 1972, which you should listen to immediately if it passed you by in 2011. Since Ravedeath, his music has gradually become more dissonant. See Love Streams, his lovely 2016 album, which had long passages of rhythmic chaos and harmonic clash. In Konoyo, Tim continues his exploration of dissonance, but in a different context. Whereas Love Streams burst at the seams with energy, Konoyo is muted and introspective. The dissonance consists of two horns wailing at each other, or of tremolo on the violin which is undercut by a strange, underworld tapping. This is a methodical album, with melodies that unfold imperceptibly over time; but I didn’t find it difficult or exhausting to listen to. Tim Hecker is a master at charging an ambient buzz of sound with emotion, and the album, while heavy, never feels impersonal. It put me in mind of an Arctic explorer, trekking over a landscape which is often foreboding, but never fails to be beautiful.
Very strongly recommended: among my favorite albums of the year. Try any, but 4 and 7 might be good places to start.
1) “This Life” (8:42): Opens with a mournful sound of sirens. Dissonant. A bleak, introspective landscape.
2) “In Death Valley” (5:36): Higher-pitched sounds. Brittle. Death Valley at night looking up at the stars. Quiet finish.
3 “Is Rose Petal of the Dying Crimson Light” (3:27): More of the wasteland. High whistles, buzzing.
4) “Keyed Out” (9:46): Opens with big ominous bass horn. Then enters into something which feels like our first emotional climax of the album. Still quite sparse, but emotion in the sparseness. Lovely.
5) “In Mother Earth Phase” (10:26): A bit richer and more staticky. Subsides to something quiet and dark: lots of cello. Reminds me of a glacier.
6) “A Sodium Codec Haze” (5:46): Big dramatic whistles, like train whistles at night. Quite emotional again. At the end, higher tones.
7) “Across to Anoyo” (15:25): The most spectacular piece on the album. Still desolate but now more dramatic and tumultuous. Dissonant: sirens, whistles. More sprawling and harder to characterize than other tracks on the album.